When you hear the term “classic” in Hip-Hop, there’s a few albums that automatically come to mind. There’s Hov’s Reasonable Doubt, Eric B & Rakim’s Paid in Full, Biggie’s Life After Death, and of course Tupac’s All Eyes On Me just to name a few. However, there’s one album that has been highly regarded since the day it dropped and is arguably one of the best bodies of work from top to bottom. That album is Nasir Jones’ Illmatic.
Recorded primarily when he was 18 and 19 years old, Nas was clearly ahead of his time. You could tell because of the content of his raps. It sounded like this 19 year old kid had been through life already. In a sense he already has because growing up in New York in the 80s and 90s, you had to man up quick.
He had top tier production on the album from the likes of MC Serch, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor, and Q-Tip. So in a sense, you could almost guarantee that this LP would be a classic if anybody rapped over that production. The fact that those big names took a chance on a kid tells you everything you need to know about Nas.
The album received a rating of Five Mic’s from the source which was the highest and most prestigious honor your album could get. It produced 5 singles along with numerous top 20 rankings in the “Greatest Hip-Hop Album’s of All Time” lists including four #1 rankings.
With all that being said, it’s obvious that 25 years later Illmatic is still one of the most highly regarded projects ever. To a lot of people it is the bar of what a classic album should sound like from top to bottom.
Happy 25th birthday to the masterpiece Illmatic.